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  Smoke Free Patna Chetna Yatra flagged off
  PATNA, January 11: Mr Sanjay Kumar Singh, District Magistrate, flagged off the Smoke Free Patna Chetna Batra at the Collectorate here today in the presence of Mr Lakhindra Prasad, Civil Surgeon, Dr Rajneesh Choudhary, District Nodal Officer-National Tobacco Control Program-Patna and Mr Suman, District Program Manager.

Enthused by the efforts being made by the District Administration to enforce the provisions of the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003, personnel appointed by Population Services International, a non-profit organization, have been undertaking the yatra using two vehicles branded with 'Smoke Free' messages. The vans will cover all 332 gram panchayats in the entire district over a two-month period.

The key message of "Chalo pehnaya apne jile ko dhumrapan mukti ka taj" is mentioned on the van body. The campaign seeks to infuse pride among citizens for a 'Smoke Free' campaign and urges them to avoid smoking in public places. The crowning glory for people is 'Smoke Free Declaration', a feat achieved only by a few districts in India. This is depicted by the royal turban with 'No Smoking' symbol in the middle.

The public address system in the van will play slogans to discourage people from smoking in public places. Further, PSI personnel will educate key officials and tobacco retailers about different provisions of the COTPA Act, including ban on sale of tobacco to minors.

There are three criteria for declaration of 'Smoke Free District'. First, activation of challan mechanism wherein violators of the ban on smoking in public places are fined up to Rs 200; second is installation of No Smoking signages in all public places in the district and third, minimal instance of violation of the smoking ban by the public as observed during an observational study.

As the aim is 'Smoke Free Patna' district, it is vital that 'No Smoking' and COTPA-mandated tobacco retailer signages are put up in rural areas as well. A particular challenge in rural area is access to signages, including lack of vendors who can produce signages. This means that more efforts, time and money need to be expended by individual officers, in-charges of public places or by the individual tobacco retailer. PSI personnel will also make available signages at low cost and facilitate installation of signages using drilling machines and nails as appropriate.

As per Global Adult Tobacco Survey conducted by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in 2010, 14.2 per cent of people in Bihar smoke. However 24.7per cent of all surveyed people in Bihar reported being exposed to dangerous second hand smoke in public places. Smoke-free laws protect the health of non-smokers, do not harm business and encourage smokers to quit.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Lakhindra Prasad, Civil Surgeon, said that every person should be able to breathe smoke-free air. 'Smoke Free Patna' campaign is a step to ensure the same.

There are more than 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer. In adults, second-hand smoke causes serious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, including coronary heart disease and lung cancer. In infants, it causes sudden death. In pregnant women, it causes low birth weight. There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.

Tobacco continues to be a silent killer with not many people aware of the staggering costs it imposes, both on the economy and citizen's health. Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the world. Tobacco kills nearly 6 million people each year, of whom more than 5 million are users and ex-users and more than 600,000 are nonsmokers exposed to second-hand smoke. An estimated 1 million people die every year due to tobacco in India alone. Approximately one person dies every six seconds due to tobacco and this accounts for one in 10 adult deaths. Up to half of current users will eventually die of a tobacco-related disease.

Tobacco users who die prematurely deprive their families of income, raise the cost of health care and hinder economic development.

Important two provisions of COTPA Act

Section 4 of COTPA mandates that every owner, manager or in-charge of a public place display the "No Smoking" signage of dimensions 60 by 30 cms prominently at the entrance, and additionally displaying at every entrance, every floor in addition to other conspicuous places within the public place. If the manager, owner or in-charge of a public place fails to act on report of violation, s/he would be liable to pay a fine equivalent to the number of individual offences. Enforcers can challand upto Rs 200 for violations for Section 4.

Section 6 of COTPA 2003 provides a clear need to protect the children and youth from tobacco use by restricting easy access of tobacco products to and by minors. As per Section 6 a, All tobacco selling shops/establishments should disaply a minimum size of the board should be 60cm x 30cm with white background. The board should contain the warning "sale of tobacco products to a person below the age of 18 years is a punishable offence", in Indian language(s) as applicable and a pictorial depiction of ill effects of tobacco use on health. Any violation will attract a fine of upto Rs 200.

About Population Services International ( )

PSI is a global health organization dedicated to improving the health of people in the developing world by focusing on serious challenges like a lack of family planning, HIV and AIDS, Non Communicable Diseases, barriers to maternal health, and the greatest threats to children under five, including malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition.

PSI is supporting district administrations in Patna, Munger and Nalanda in enforcing the COTPA Act through workshops, sensitization programs and technical assistance on tobacco control issues.

For more information, please contact:-

Abhilash Philip, Senior Manager-Programs, Population Services International at 09873590278
Dr Rajneesh Choudhary, District Nodal Officer-National Tobacco Control Program at 9431021409
Vishnu Sah, State Coordinator-Tobacco Control, PSI at 9771479669
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